Aug 1, 2015

Saturday Previews Vol. 7

I'm changing the format for this post up again. Keeping it loose, keeping it light with how I operate things. Pays to be your own boss. This will be going bi-weekly from now on and I'll pick the best trailer of the week to yammer on about.

Trailer of the Week
Black Mass
Black Mass looks to be yet another engaging mobster movie. Yeah, sure, we've seen these before, but Depp is a wild card and everything rests on his shoulders. If his performance can't carry the weight the film will surely suffer for it. He's more than capable and if this trailer gives any indication we might have to be referring to Whitey Bulger and Tommy DeVito in the same breath when it comes to mobster psychopaths. It wins over the Spectre trailer by an inch just for the pulse pounding pace and town provided by YelaWolf's track "'Till it's Gone."

Jul 31, 2015

Tom Cruise is Insane: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Review

Friday Night vs Monday Morning Reviews are simple. I go see a movie and do a write-up of my initial feelings and reactions so you have them by Friday Night. Then on Monday Morning I write another section after I've had time to think about the movie that will go more in depth.

Friday Night
How insane is Tom Cruise? The guy strapped himself to the side of plane and had it take off for a stunt in the movie. It's not green screen. It's not a stunt double. It's Tom friggin' Cruise strapped to a friggin' plane. Say what you will about the man's beliefs or off screen antics but the man has a damn good work ethic. It's not just Cruise that put in good work, cast and crew have put together a great summer blockbuster.

So this time around the illustrious IMF organization is disbanded at the start of the movie because most of their exploits cause, frankly, a crap-ton of collateral damage. Do they get the job done? Yes. But at the same time a lot of their results rely on luck just as much as they rely on the team's skills. (Frankly it's an apt description of the IMF, and one of those genre breaking observations movies like this probably shouldn't bring up.) The organization and personnel is folded into the CIA but Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt goes rogue to track down the Syndicate, a terrorist organization that is made up of various spy agencies' MIA or presumed KIA operatives.

Here's the thing, there are a lot of holes in this movie. Stop and think about any of the murkier plot points and the whole thing crashes. What is the Syndicate's ultimate goal? They have a short term goal in the film but it's definitely not a mission statement. Why are all of these MIA or KIA agents joining a terrorist organization? Are there that many corrupt spies? Why is Simon Peg playing Halo 5 with a PS4 controller? These are the hard hitting questions that can derail a movie. Not in this case though. The movie never slows down long enough to let you realize it before exciting stuff starts happening. It's kinda like a parent waving a flashy toy at a toddler who just skinned his knee. Don't think about the bad focus on the spectacle. And boy oh boy, does this movie have spectacle.

I've already mentioned the whole, "Tom Cruise strapped to a plane" thing. That's just the opening sequence. Then there's the car chase that turns into the most satisfying motorcycle chase I've seen in a long time. There's the computer file heist, a game of cat and mouse between hitmen and heroes at an Opera, then the climax where the conflict is up close and brutal.

The whole cast hits the right notes and extra props goes to Rebecca Ferguson for being an even more ass-kicking spy than Tom Cruise. Hell, if Black Widow is ever out sick she could fill her slot on the Avengers. Go see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation if you choose to accept it.

Monday Morning
Reboots. Sequels. Superheroes. Those are pretty much the three different types of big blockbuster you're going to get these days. That's been true for a while and it's something I've accepted for good or ill. But the Mission Impossible franchise made me stop and think about something I can't shake. Three out of the five Mission Impossible movies have seen Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt on the run because he's been blacklisted and on the run. The first, fourth and fifth movies have that at their narrative core. So that's kinda like being both a sequel and a reboot. Somehow the film series got away with it again with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation but they can't do it again. I mean--they could do it again--but they really shouldn't.

Basically everybody loves this movie. With good reason too, it's a really great spy movie. It's not trying to make its' audience think too hard. Just sit back and enjoy the show. It's the same show but it's different, at this point the IMF and/or Ethan Hunt being black listed is just a staple of the franchise as a crazy heist sequence. Doing it over and over comes dangerously close to breaking the suspension of disbelief. Yeah we can all buy the crazy superhuman (or rather super-durable) stuff our various IMF agents can do but it only works because we the audience want to believe the illusion. But suspension of disbelief of any action movie is walking a tight rope with a weight limit. Pile enough on and it'll snap. At a certain point, Ethan Hunt would've been pulled from the field for all the times he's broken protocol or cause a lot of collateral damage in the course of chasing the bad guys. The IMF itself would've been scrapped too. But I can hear you now.

"But the IMF was disbanded in this movie! At the beginning!"

Yes but in the end it's fully restored and Hunt is back being its' MVP. The fact that the movie itself brings up the problems of Hunt and the IMF in the actual plot is a problem within itself. Unless you're going to do something substantive with those concepts they shouldn't have been brought up at all. The overall story of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation could easily have been told without Hunt and the team being fugitives. While it does add a layer of tension to the proceedings its runs the unnecessary risk of adding more weight to the suspension of disbelief. The time they spent on that narrative thread could have been better used to establish what the hell the Syndicate's long term plan is. They're responsible for several different terrorist attacks but what's the goal? What's the group's mission statement? Yes in this movie they are trying to get access to more money to continue their activities but what in the hell are those activities trying to accomplish? Answering these questions (or asking them) is a more worthwhile endeavor than the "team is on the run" trope they've done already.

Look, I'm not saying the movie is bad. Perhaps I'm overcompensating because I'm nitpicking an overall great movie. All I'm saying is that the Mission Impossible movies needs to ditch some of its' common tropes in order to keep moving forward. There will surely be another Mission Impossible film, in fact Cruise said they might start filming it within a year, but they've done the same thing for three movies now. They can't seriously think they can do the same thing again can they? It's three strikes and then... well you know the rest.

Jul 24, 2015

Captain America's Dark Side

Avengers: Age of Ultron has been out for a bit and it's either a movie you like or don't like. For me I really enjoyed it. I enjoy it more than the first Avengers because there's more of them together and doing their "avengering." But after seeing it a couple of times I noticed some things I don't think a lot of people are talking about. Almost everyone wants to talk about Black Widow's arc or how Hawkeye has finally stepped his game up (or rather Marvel finally decided to show us why he's there.)

But here's the things I noticed: Cap doesn't really want to beat the bad guys.

Spoilers follows after the jump.

Jul 18, 2015

Saturday Previews Vol. 6

Hello, hello, hello ladies and gentlemen. My apologies for missing last week, I moved to a new apartment and was dropping a couch on my foot and crashing a moving truck into a mailbox when I'd normally be posting this. So let's speed through two weeks of trailers.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Now is probably a good time to mention I am not a part of the internet legion that hates Man of Steel. I think that movie was really good and got the character of Superman 100% right. I did have some misgivings about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman mostly because I wasn't sure if he'd be able to fully become the character or whether we'd be stuck watching an actor (albeit a very good actor) "pretend" to be Batman. Very similar to my feelings on the two leads in Terminator: Genisys. I'm still unsure of it but overall... this trailer... I need a cigarette. The story is moving in a direction I like and Batman's motivation for going after Superman is well rooted in his character. It also helps quite a bit to have Alfred advising Bruce that Superman is one of the good guys. I think the colors are still a bit dark. But overall I like how it's looking. My only fear is that Snyder is trying to cram too much into the movie. If this movie doesn't look like your thing, that's cool. But at the end of the day it's Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman fighting each other and (POSSIBLE SPOILERS) Doomsday. If that very concept doesn't tickle you then this movie simply isn't for you anyway.

Jul 17, 2015

Next Time On Marvel: Ant-Man Review

Friday Night vs Monday Morning Reviews are simple. I go see a movie and do a write-up of my initial feelings and reactions so you have them by Friday Night. Then on Monday Morning I write another section after I've had time to think about the movie that will go more in depth.

Friday Night
Ant-Man is certainly a film that exists. It's not bad. It's not even average. It's above-average. But at this point all I have to say is that it's your typical Marvel movie and you know what you're getting. Truthfully, that's all I really want to say about the movie but generally people expect more out of a review so I'll give it my best shot to write about Marvel's latest in something resembling a longer form review.

At this point the Marvel Cinematic Universe is like a TV show with the world's biggest budget and only puts out episodes every few months. Ant-Man is just the latest episode in the ongoing saga.

Jul 4, 2015

Saturday Previews Vol 5.

It's July 4th so you know what that means? It means I'm wearing a Captain America T-Shirt, drinking a couple of cold ones and watching the excellent documentary Independence Day. But before I get to my celebratin' let's watch some trailers. Pretty dead this week but we got two winners (in my book at least.)

I like everything that this trailer gave us. It's got a real solid rhythm to it with the great music and pacing but most of all I really enjoy that this film is first and foremost about Creed, not his mentor Rocky Balboa. I also love that they don't even have to say his name once because we all know who he is, there is no need to put it in our faces. It's a good sign out of the gate that even the marketing department knows what the focus should be on. That combined with Michael B. Jordan is an amazing actor and I cannot wait to see this.

Jul 1, 2015

They Abramsed It: Terminator: Genisys Review

Friday Night vs Monday Morning Reviews are simple. I go see a movie and do a write-up of my initial feelings and reactions so you have them by Friday Night. Then on Monday Morning I write another section after I've had time to think about the movie that will go more in depth.

Now clearly it isn't "Friday Night" but Terminator: Genisys opened on a Wednesday so you're getting the review now. So that means on Friday you're getting the "Monday Morning" section.

"Friday Night"
Terminator: Genisys is a movie that shouldn't exist. I don't mean to imply that this movie is hot garbage because it most definitely is not. I mean to say the whole shebang was tied up in a nice little bow back in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. But despite the narrative coming to a worthwhile conclusion two movies ago we're getting the fourth outing for the series because this is a moneymaking franchise dammit and Hollywood wants their money. So can Terminator: Genisys offer something worthwhile? Or is it just a cash-in?

It's both. And therein lies the movie's weakness. Mild spoilers will follow. (But none bigger than the HUGE one given away by all the marketing.)

Jun 27, 2015

Saturday Previews Vol. 4

I have to start off with an apology for tonight's previews. I did in fact miss a trailer last week. Normally I would just leave it at that and share the trailer. But not this movie. This is a movie that I am very much looking forward to. It will become apparent as to why after you watch the trailer.

Daddy's Home
IT'S THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF BOBBY FRIGGIN' MERCER! Okay. Maybe not officially. But there ain't no damn way you're going to convince me that this isn't a sequel to the excellent revenge thriller Four Brothers. I mean-- just look at Mark Wahlberg. He's playing the same character but in a slapstick comedy. I don't care if he's got a different name in Daddy's Home. Okay so this is what happens. Bobby is a drifter/thug right? Right? It's not too far fetched he'd be the type to get a one-night stand pregnant on his travels. And he probably didn't even use his real name. Then years later he finds out he's got kids and wants to be a part of their lives because his real parents abandoned him. So he rushes to their side as soon as he can and boom! There's the movie. Half of my enjoyment from this movie is going to be imagining they're the same guy.

If I've accomplished anything today I hope it's that I've planted that seed in your head so deep you won't be able to think about it when you go watch the movie. You are welcome. 

Jun 20, 2015

Saturday Previews Vol.3

Well *flips up top page of clipboard* looks like we're in for a positively thrilling round of trailers this week. *Takes a shot of fireball.* Okay let's get this going.

The Runner, Nicolas Cage's newest film where he plays a Congressman that actually wants to help people. Uh-huh. Ghost Rider was more realistic. Moving on: Does anybody remember that viral video where the guy puts a go-pro on his dog to see what he did all day while he was at work and it was super depressing because the dog just cried thinking he was abandoned? The Secret Life of Pets is going to be the opposite of that. We got Time out of Mind where Richard Gere is a homeless guy. I really want this to be a sequel to Pretty Woman. You know what? Screw it. As far as I'm concerned it is a sequel to Pretty Woman. Charlize Theron goes to Dark Places. Looks promising but the title is a bit on the nose. Keeping with that theme of "on the nose" titles is Kate Mara's Captive. Which--well. Yeah. Hotel Transylvania 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 will serve as films to pad out kids movie marathons on ABC Family or whatever TV channel gets the syndication rights. Ted 2 features more of the same shtick. And finally we have Dragon Blade. A martial arts movie featuring Jackie Chan with Adrian Brody  some guy that looks like but can't possibly be Adrian Brody as the villain. Wait that can't... STOP. I was right the first time? Okay so Jackie Chan goes up against Adrian Brody and somehow John Cusack is involved. Huh. Someone get me a six pack of Bud Light and my best friends STAT.

Check the trailers after the jump. As well as my top three picks of the week (of films I did not mention above) based on no guidelines other than I wanted to throw my two cents in.

Jun 18, 2015

Revisiting Your First Movie

What was the first movie you remember seeing in a movie theater when you were a kid? Was it a transformative experience or something that is just a footnote in your life? For me it was something I will never forget. The movie was Batman: Mask of the Phantasm starring Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany, Stacey Keach and Abe Vigoda. It came out Christmas Day in 1993 (although that is not the day I saw it.)

Jun 13, 2015

Saturday Previews Vol. 2

Welcome to Saturday Previews where I take most of the trailers that dropped during the week and present them for your viewing pleasure. Read my thoughts on them if you're into that sort of thing. Or just watch the trailers.

No Escape
This will be one I check out. I can't remember the last time Owen Wilson had a dramatic role since Behind Enemy Lines and that was when Gene Hackman was still in the game. It will be interesting if this is just a violent action movie or if it attempts to go into the details behind the civil unrest. Hard to tell from the looks of it. Then again Pierce Brosnan is in the movie too but was only in the trailer for about three seconds.

More after the jump.

New Gods and New Monsters for your Saturday Morning

Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a new animated film from visionary Bruce Timm that reimagines DC Comics titular heroes in a way you've never seen them before. Batman is Kirk Langstrom (normally the traditional Batman villain "Man-Bat,") Wonder Woman is Bekka (a character from Darkseid's neck of the woods) and Superman is the son of General Zod. When I saw the teaser for the direct to DVD movie I was a bit skeptical. I'm all for new interpretations for old characters but I questioned if I would like this version.

Almost as if Warner Brothers could read my mind they personally reached out to me and made some teaser short films for me to review to see if they got my seal of approval.

That is 110% true and I stand by this statement you can't prove me wrong.

The shorts are after the jump.

Jun 12, 2015

Smashing Action Figures Together: Jurassic World Review

Friday Night vs Monday Morning Reviews are simple. I go see a movie and do a write-up of my initial feelings and impressions and share them with you so you have them by Friday Night. Then on Monday morning I write another section after I've had time to think about the movie that will be more in depth.

Friday Night
How can I describe Jurassic World the briefest way possible? One word: thrilling. It is an absolute thrill to watch. Director Colin Trevorrow knows what we all want to see when we go into a Jurassic Park movie. In many ways Spielberg had the easier job. All he had to do was put the dinos on the screen and we all go "ooooh" and aaaaah." But in many ways the climax of this film is like watching a kid who got the toys twenty years ago and started mashing them together while doing their best T-Rex imitation. Example: you want to know what it'd be like if the raptors were on the human's side? Boom. Here you go. Keeping that theme going there were not one, not two, but three moments that made me want to stand up and cheer. Trevorrow knows we want to see certain things and he gives us those things. Do they make sense? Not really but shut up there are dinosaurs fighting on the screen.

The film successfully walks the tightrope between creating something new while also fitting in a tricera-ton of callbacks and references to the first Jurassic Park. Little details like Chris Pratt's Owen not falling into the same trap the character Muldoon made in 1992 (which is never let the raptor on your left out of your sight.) Or early in the movie where the T-Rex is fed a goat with a red flare dropped nearby. The film has been made for people who have seen the first film and the four people from the Australian outback who haven't. Joking aside, Jurassic World stands on its own and can be watched in isolation and while some of the references might go over some heads the movie does not depend on them to be good.

Performance-wise the actors do their jobs well enough. You might think this is Chris Pratt's movie based on all the marketing but it's Bryce Dallas Howard's character Claire who goes through the most change from beginning to end. Special mention must be made that Pratt is not just rehashing Star-Lord in a hunting vest. He's much more competent and less jokey than the superhero which was an absolute must and frankly, a relief. I didn't want to see Star-Lord fight dinosaurs, I wanted to see a character that belonged in this world fight dinosaurs.

I believe the film is most definitely worth the watch. Jurassic World is not going to win any awards but it will absolutely thrill you during its run time. They spared no expense.

Jun 6, 2015

Saturday Previews Vol. 1

Welcome to Saturday Previews where I take most of the trailers that dropped during the week and present them for your viewing pleasure. Read my thoughts on them if you're into that sort of thing. Or just watch the trailers.

The Perfect Guy

I wondered for about five seconds where this movie was going until the redneck came up to Sanaa Lathan's car. I actually went, "Ah. Alright. One of those." Then I watched the rest of the movie because it's one of those trailers. I'm sure it'll be... fine. I like Michael Ealy and it's cool to see him branch out into full sociopath like this. But again, I just watched the entire movie for free in two minutes.

Click for more after the jump.

Jun 3, 2015

The Rewriting: Wolverine joins the Marvel Universe

The Rewriting: Taking a narrative from a film, TV show, video game or what have you and making it something different than what it was to improve it or just for giggles.

Next summer Spider-Man will (likely) be making his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Captain America: Civil War which marks the end of Sony's exclusivity over the character. Up until now Marvel Studios has not had the film rights to Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four. To make it brief I will oversimplify why this was done. In the 1990's these film rights were sold off because Marvel was in a bit of financial trouble. At the time they basically sold the rights off to all of their most popular characters, which funny enough, was basically everyone but The Avengers. So Sony got Spider-Man, Fox got the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Daredevil (the latter would eventually find his way home.) Now the film deals work like this, the studios must make and release a movie in those respective franchises every few years or the rights revert themselves back to Marvel. This is what happened with Daredevil and the Punisher.

But in the case of Spider-Man a deal was struck where Sony and Marvel Studios could "share" the character. Basically Marvel helps Sony make the movies creatively and financially while Marvel gets to use one of their most popular characters in their Avengers franchise. Sony went for the deal mostly because they had little choice. The Amazing Spider-Man movies did well financially but critically they were a mixed bag and the box office profits had been dropping for three movies. Tying Spider-Man to the Avengers and starting over again is the booster shot the movie franchise needs to move forward.

So what the hell does any of this has to do with Wolverine? Nothing much really, this is all just background info for a hypothetical situation where a similar deal is struck in the imaginary universe in my head with everyone's favorite Canadian superhero. Essentially Marvel is not going to get the film rights to the X-Men back from Fox any time soon. That franchise is doing just fine and has had new life breathed into it by X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past. But let's suppose for a moment that Fox let Marvel use Wolverine and an X-Men character or two in their Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU.) How would that work?

Jun 2, 2015

Old Blog, New Start

Dear Internet Peoples,

Hey it's been a while. I'm hoping you didn't forget about me completely forgot about me. I'm pretty sure you did because my email ain't exactly overflowing with messages clamoring for my return.

Well whether we wanted it or not I'm back to dust the cobwebs off this old blog of mine with anustart (TOPICAL.) I've taken a step back and worked out exactly what you're going to find on this site. I think. Maybe. We'll see.

*cries into napkin out of crushing indecision*

I'll make this brief. This is an entertainment blog that's going to cover a lot of different mediums. Before I tried to focus on movies but occasionally rambled on about whatever was on my mind. So from the outset I've decided to make this place a bit of both. Here's some reoccurring columns and other stuff you're going to find on this site.